SSA Updates Definition of “Public Assistance Household” for SSI

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has finalized a rule change that will expand the definition of a “public assistance household” for the purposes of obtaining Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. This rule change will potentially increase the number of people who can access SSI, as well as increase the amount they receive in benefits. It also makes it easier for people to obtain disability benefits even if not everyone in their household would normally meet eligibility requirements.

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income, also known as SSI for short, is a benefits program intended to help people with disabilities who do not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Typically, SSI is intended for people who lack a significant work history as a result of their disability, as well as minors who suffer from congenital or other long-term disabilities. Among other things, it imposes strict limitations on how much someone can make each year while still qualifying for the program, including income from public assistance.

What is This Rule Change?

The rule change alters the definition of a “public assistance household” under the SSI program. Among other things, it allows any household that qualifies for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to fit the definition. It also allows a household to qualify as a “public assistance household” even when not every member of the household is a beneficiary of public assistance benefits like SNAP.

Why Does it Matter?

The reason this matters is because of how the income maximums are calculated for the purposes of determining if someone qualifies for SSI. Normally, it is assumed that people living in the same household as another person will be receiving financial assistance, and thus counts their income towards SSI maximum limits. However, in a public assistance household, it is assumed that they do not have enough money to share, thus excluding their income from SSI limits and making it easier for them to qualify for benefits.

How Could This Affect You?

If you have previously applied for SSI benefits but were rejected due to income limitations, or refrained from applying due to the public assistance rule, this rule change could potentially affect your circumstances and allow you to qualify. However, to know how this might impact your specific situation, you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling disability benefits applications. They can help you apply for benefits, and argue on your behalf if you are denied.

If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.

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